HICKSVILLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The holiday shopping season is nearly upon us, but the Centers for Disease Control lists shopping in crowded stores as a higher-risk activity.

So how can you safely navigate holiday shopping this year?

Curbside pickup has gone from the exception to the norm for many shoppers.

“How easy is this? I don’t even have to get out of the car,” Long Island resident Nancy Nufer told CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff on Tuesday.

MORESmall Businesses Not Holding Back To Draw In Holiday Shoppers

It’s a new normal that will make holiday shopping look very different this year.

“I’m not coming out to the mall. Just shop online,” one person said.

“The stores are going to be too crowded. We are trying to stay COVID-free,” another said.

“The curbside pickup opportunity is a way for me to stay safe in my car. The folks at the store are able to stay safe,” added Brian Byer of Blue Fountain Media.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

Byer said he is advising consumers that do go into stores to be goal oriented. Get in and get out. Resist the urge to stay and browse. Think in terms of a season of savings. Sales will not be time-restricted to avoid a Black Friday-type of in-store crowding.

Instead, Walmart has launched three separate “best price” sale dates.

At Broadway Commons in Hicksville the sales are already on.

“It’s not just one day. We have actually already started our Black Friday sales,” said Lily Pirkhamoshi, manager of Benny’s Jewelry.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Retailers are also creatively managing crowds. Target rolled out shopping reservations and the ability to reserve a spot in line or see if there is a line to get in.

Contactless checkouts eliminate the need to touch a scanning device.

“You can check out while you’re walking around. You can check out in an app,” Byer said.

There are more spaces reserved for in-car deliver, plus artificial intelligence to manage checkout lines at mass retailers.

“If more than a few people are in a line, automatically a new one will open and enable you to control the crowd,” Byer said.

And when it comes time for returns, watch for more generous return policies about how long you have to ship back or return to the store.

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